Keeping you and your kit dry when exploring the wilds is essential and there are many solutions but earlier this year I opted for the SnugPak Enhanced Patrol Poncho. I am often walking across the exposed Scottish hills and more often or not at some point during the day I will be unexpectedly rained down on and when you get wet and you are also being exposed to winds then things get miserable pretty quickly. Over the years I have tried many differing types of waterproof jacket and leggings but no matter the combination it still takes take time to get them out of your pack and put them on and by that time more often or not you have gotten a little soggy. This is where the poncho comes into it’s own. When I was a young Army Cadet (nearly 25 years ago) I often used a old British Army poncho when wild camping. It was brilliant as it acted as a basha and a poncho all in one and it easily packed up in a poncho roll which was attached to my ’58 pattern webbing rig. So when I thought about bringing a poncho back into my outdoor kit roster I looked back to this old favourite and found it to be too heavy and bulky and as such not ideal for my needs. After asking some of our followers for suggestions I zeroed in on the Enhanced Patrol Poncho from Snugpak. This British company has a long history of producing high quality kit for the military and in recent years they have branched out in to the civilian market.
The SnugPak Enhanced Patrol Poncho
The poncho is supplied in its own vented compression sack which you can attach easily to the side of you pack for quick deployment. When compressed the poncho measures in at approximately 200mm x 100mm which is fairly compact and it weighs in around 400g. When deployed the poncho is really generous in its size. It’s design enables it to be put on easily over your head with plenty of space for climbing helmets within the zipped hood. The poncho also covers your back pack without leaving the backs of your legs overly exposed which is a bonus. The sleeves feature a generously sized thumbhole which works well even when wearing gloves which is great. On the chest there is a large velcro sealed storm-flapped pocket which is sufficient for a few maps and compass. It also has a hand warmer type through pocket behind it to help protect your hands. Due to its size the poncho can be used as a emergency bivvi although there are no fittings or loops attached to it to allow for it to be used for a tarp style set up (unlike my old British Army poncho). Basically you can huddle up within it to protect you from the elements and there is plenty of room to allow for this. The Paratex Dry material is 100% waterproof and the seams are sufficient enough to stop any rain from seeping in. There are two colours available to buy, olive and black with the black version being the one I chose. For really foul and cold weather Snugpak have produced an insulated liner for the poncho which I hope to review later this year.
I have been using the SnugPak Enhanced Patrol Poncho since January this year in both mountain and woodland environments and in all sorts of bad weather. It has performed really well and has kept my pack and myself dry although it does has one flaw. On the old British Army poncho there was an internal cord positioned at waist height which is something that Snugpak’s poncho would benefit from. As the winds pick up the poncho bellows up which is problem. I created a work around by running some shock cord around my waist to keep it in place secured with a s-clip and this works well.
While it is great to have something at hand that can be deployed quickly to protect you from the rain it does not replace the need for good waterproof jackets and leggings when on the hills. In general I have found the Enhanced Patrol Poncho to be an excellent and very well made bit of kit and I can see it lasting me for several years to come. Good kit!